QUESTION: My wife is a full-time homemaker, and we have three children under 6 years of age. She often gets depressed, especially when she can’t keep up with everything expected of her. But I have my hands full too, and am required to put in a lot of overtime. What can I do o help my wife cope with these busy years?

DR. DOBSON: Let me make two suggestions to you:

  1. For some reason, human beings (and particularly) tolerate stresses and pressures much more easily if at least one other person knows they are enduring it. This principle is filed under the category of “human understanding,” and it is highly relevant to homemakers.

The frustrations of raising small children and handling domestic duties will be more manageable for your wife if you will let her know that you comprehend it all. Even if you can do nothing to change the situation, simply your awareness that she did an admirable job today will make it easier for her to repeat the assignment tomorrow.

Instead, the opposite usually occurs. At least eight million husbands will stumble into the same unforgivable question tonight: “What did you do all day, dear?” The very nature of the question implies that she had been sitting on her backside watching television and drinking coffee since arising at noon! She could kill him for saying it!

Everyone needs to know that he is respected for the way he meets his responsibilities. Husbands get this emotional nurture through job promotions, raises in pay, annual evaluations and incidental praise during the workday, women at home get it from their husbands – if they get it at all. The most unhappy wives and mothers are often those who handle their fatigue and time pressure in solitude, and their men are never very sure why they always act so tired.

2.Husbands and wives should constantly guard against the scourge of over commitment. Even worthwhile and enjoyable activities become demanding when they consume the last ounce of energy or the remaining free moments in the day. Though it is rarely possible for a busy family, everyone needs to waste some time every now and then – to walk along kicking rocks and thinking pleasant thoughts. Men need time to putter in the garage, and women need to pluck their eyebrows and so the girlish things again.

But as I have described, the whole world seems to conspire against such reconstructive activities. Even our vacations are hectic: “We have to reach St. Louis by sundown or we lose our reservations.”

I can provide a simple prescription for a happier, healthier life, but it must be implemented by the individual family. You must resolve to slow your pace; you must learn to say “no” gracefully; you must resist the temptation to chase after more pleasures, more hobbies, and more social entanglements.

In essence, three questions should be asked about every new activity that presents itself:

Is it worthy of our time?

What will be eliminated if it is added?

What will be its impact on our family life?

QUESTION: My unmarried daughter recently told me she is pregnant. What should be my attitude now?

DR. DOBSON: You cannot reverse these circumstances by being harsh or unloving at this point. Your daughter needs more understanding now than ever before, and you should give it to her if possible.